Dotterels posing, mating and displaying

It’s easy to walk past these small water birds but Black-fronted Dotterels can be pretty entertaining when you do spot them.


Black-fronted Dotterel (Elseyornis melanops)
Canon 7D, 100-400mm L IS USM, 1/640, f/5.6, ISO 100, focal length 400mm


Black-fronted Dotterels have distinct plumage with a strong black band around their breast, a black face mask, red bill with a black tip, red eye rings and handsome chestnut shoulder feathers. They are comical to watch as they bob and run and dip their heads to peck at molluscs and insects.


 Black-fronted Dotterel – male and female birds aren’t usually so easily identified!
Canon 7D, 100-400mm L IS USM, 1/800, f/6.3, ISO 100, focal length 400mm


This pair of Black-fronted Dotterel were foraging as usual before deciding that there’s no time like the present. The male’s initial attempts to mount the female weren’t successful but he wasn’t deterred by his falls from grace and happily tried again. Coupling was brief and ended with the birds preening casually then standing with their backs to each other.


 Black-fronted Dotterel – injured wing display
Canon 7D, 100-400mm, 1/500, f/5/6, ISO 200, focal length 400mm


I hadn’t seen this Black-fronted Dotterel until it began the frantic injured wing display that it bravely uses to lure threats away from nests and nestlings. It occasionally glanced towards me to make sure its trick was working, which it was.

If you have walked around freshwater wetlands or lakes you have almost certainly been watched by plenty of dotterels.

Happy birding, Kim





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